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Car Fire Causes Panic At Garden State Plaza Shopping Center

On Saturday night, May 10, 2014 at approximately 8:09 pm the Paramus Police Department received a report of a car fire next to Macy’s at Westfield Garden State Plaza. At a point during the fire, some smoke began to enter the northeast doors of Macys. People in that area of the store were advised by store personal to move out of that section of the store. At some point one of the evacuees knocked over a large metal display stanchion located on the main level of Macy’s. This large noise, which might have sounded similar to a gun shot, caused a cascade of panic and more people began to quickly evacuate the area.

 As the crowd rushed from the store on both the main and lower levels of Macys, another display setup, located on the lower level of Macy’s, near the mall entrance, toppled over causing additional large noises. The mall and movie theater were near full at the time of the incident. At this point, the Paramus Police Department received numerous calls of shots being fired in the Mall. The entire mall then began to lockdown and evacuate. The Paramus Police Department assisted by the New Jersey State Police , the Bergen County Police and other surrounding jurisdictions cleared the entire mall and confirmed that no shots were ever fired. The last locked down stores were searched and cleared by midnight. Several patrons received minor injures during the initial exodus. The Paramus Police Department turned the mall back over to Westfield Management at that time. The mall restaurants and movie theater will reopen on Sunday, May 11.

Kenneth R. Ehrenberg
Chief of Police
Paramus Police Department

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